Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk has suggested the U.S. electric automaker may be able to mass-produce batteries with 50% more energy density in three to four years, which could even allow electric airplanes.
His comments came as speculation is increasing about announcements at Tesla’s anticipated “Battery Day” event where it is expected to reveal how it has enhanced its battery performance.
“400 Wh/kg *with* high cycle life, produced in volume (not just a lab) is not far. Probably 3 to 4 years,” Musk tweeted on Monday in response to a Twitter thread by Sam Korus, an analyst at ARK Investment Management LLC, about why Musk keeps hinting at a Tesla electric plane.
Researchers have stated the energy density of Panasonic’s “2170” batteries used in Tesla’s Model 3 is around 260 Wh/kg, indicating a 50% increase from the current energy density which is important for achieving a longer driving range.
Musk said in 2019 that for electric flight to work, the energy density of batteries required to improve to more than 400 Wh/kg, a threshold which may be achieved in five years.
The electric automaker also showed an image where a number of dots are clustered in line formations, sparking speculation among media and fans about what it will reveal at the event.
Panasonic earlier told Reuters that it plans to increase the energy density of the original “2170” battery cells it provides to Tesla by 20% in five years.
Tesla is also collaborating with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) to introduce a new low-cost, long-life battery in its Model 3 sedan in China in 2020 or early 2021, with the batteries designed to last for a million miles of use.
Tesla has said its Battery Day will occur on the same day as its 2020 annual meeting of shareholders on September 22.
A very “limited number of stockholders” will be allowed to attend both of the events due to coronavirus-related restrictions, the automaker said, and a lottery will be held to select attendees.